Ooty: The 61-year-old Central Potato Research Station (CPRS-Ooty) located at Muthorai near here is facing closure. While this has come as a rude shock to the farming community in Nilgiris, the land of potatoes, the scientists attached to CPRS, chose to be tight-lipped on the subject.
However, officials sources here confirmed this and added that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), of which CPRS-Ooty is part, has recommended to the union government to close CPRS-Ooty, for some administrative reasons.
Sources added that this will have serious impact not only on potato growing farmers of Nilgiris but also on other potato-growing parts in Tamil Nadu and other states in South India, wherein the research and related activities of potato crop is being looked after by CPRS-Ooty.
"CPRS-Ooty is the only station in south India, which is working on serious problem of potato cyst nematode (PCN) and also producing quality seeds of PCN and potato late-blight disease resistant varieties to the farmers, otherwise they have to grow the susceptible cultivars. CPRS-Ooty also acts as a centre for All India Coordinated Research Project on Potato. This station is supporting the farmers of south Indian states since its establishment from April 7 in 1957. The station, over the years, released about five varieties and holding many advanced hybrids having resistance to PCN and late-blight in pipeline. In addition, it also recommended many production and protection technologies which improved the livelihood of the farmers. Closing of this station will have a major setback in the potato research in south India,” knowledgeable sources at CPRS said.
“The potato cyst nematode (PCN) was first reported from The Nilgiris in 1961 and due to this a systematic research for development of modules or varieties against both late-blight disease and nematodes were started. CPRS-Ooty released India's first nematode resistant variety “Kufri Swarna” (resistant to PCN) in the year 1985 and the same is majorly grown still in many areas across the Nilgiris,” the sources said. Further, in managing the late-blight disease in potatoes, new varieties have been demonstrated and several fungicide schedules have been standardised and popularised among farmers in South-India, they added.
Further, CPRS-Ooty acts as a link between the potato research in North India and South India by popularising the production and protection technologies as well as the late-blight resistant varieties, sources said. The varieties “Kufri Girdhari, Kufri Himalini and Kufri Surya” developed at ICAR-run units in the north were evaluated and popularised among the potato-growing farmers of Nilgiris and other parts of southern states by conducting several on farm trials, field level demonstration....